Incorporate Generosity in Your New Year's Resolutions

Accountability to yourself and others can change the world in 2021. Here are five tips for achieving your generosity goals this year.

2020 has been a year of heartache and tension that catalyzed a rallying cry for change. Now more than ever, people are ready for new beginnings. For many, that fresh start comes as the New Year’s resolutions of January 1.

Resolutions tend to be promises we make to ourselves to make our lives better. We tell ourselves that we will eat healthier, exercise more, and work harder. We intend to become happier, healthier, and more productive with the goals we set. But what if we shifted our resolutions from what we could do for ourselves and instead prioritize what we can do for others?

There is a science to generosity.

According to UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, “Giving social support—time, effort, or goods—is associated with better overall health in older adults, and volunteering is associated with delayed mortality.” You read that right: being generous can actually make you live longer.

People are bonded by a collective desire to make an impact. It is time to use the challenges of 2020 as fuel to create a brighter future. By pursuing resolutions that benefit others, we can grow a committed movement of collective generosity in 2021. Here are five tips for how to incorporate giving into your new year’s resolutions:


  1. Reflect on your values

    What matters to you in life? What are the causes that you gravitate toward? What injustices do you speak out about? What issues call you to action? Each person has unique experiences, perspectives, and values that determine where they find passion and purpose.

    Take a few moments to reflect and make a list. Once you identify the common themes, look for mission-aligned organizations that tackle this work.

  2. Look local

    Whether you live in a small town or big city, there are issues that your community uniquely faces. Every national issue has a local impact. Use your personal values to identify the organizations and leaders who are addressing them in your area and investigate how you can get involved.

    For every global and national issue, there are countless grassroots organizations that combat its impacts in your own community. By prioritizing support toward non-profits in your community, you empower the tireless work that lifts up your neighbors.

    Resources such as GuideStar and Charity Navigator can help narrow your search. Local community foundations and non-profit coalitions, such as North Carolina's SHARE Charlotte, may provide greater insight into the work happening in your area.

  3. Get creative with how you give

    You do not have to be a millionaire to make an impact. In thinking about generosity, it goes far beyond monetary contributions. There are countless ways to donate your skills, time, and resources. Identify what works for your budget, time, and giving goals.

    Now is the time to be creative with how you give, when COVID-19 has shifted the ways in which people engage with their communities and limited traditional volunteer opportunities. With social distancing measures in place for the foreseeable future, explore new ways to support the causes you care about.

    Donate masks, sanitizer, and food to the homeless population of your community. Virtually donate your time and skills toward non-profits that relate to your expertise. Donate money to relief efforts for struggling small businesses.

  4. Make a plan

    One way to ensure that you stick to your resolutions is to write it down. Mark down on a calendar or notebook how frequently you want to commit yourself to donating or volunteering. Whether it is a weekly, monthly, or quarterly cadence, designate specific time to support the causes close to your heart.

    Charitable giving can be incorporated into your financial planning for the year. Factor in donations when creating your budget. When you make space to financially support the organizations you care about, giving becomes an active part of your life, rather than an afterthought left for December’s giving season.

  5. Find partners in accountability

    Once you identify the way you are able to give, find ways to hold yourself and others accountable to charitable goals.  By engaging others in giving efforts, the impact becomes amplified and sustainable.

    Gather coworkers for company volunteering initiatives. Coordinate a food drive amongst friends. Organize relatives to participate in fundraisers around united missions.

    In 2021, challenge yourself and your networks to go beyond conversations about the issues that matter to you each—find ways to take deliberate collective action. In doing so, you can make (and stick to) resolutions that benefit your communities.